Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
N/A out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: Unrated

Starring:
M. Night Shyamalan as Himself
Billy Arrowood as Himself - Location Scout
Adrien Brody as Himself
Deepak Chopra as Himself - Author
Johnny Depp as Himself
Callum Greene as Himself
Nathaniel Kahn as Himself
Maggie Kiley as Cecilia Meadows
Ilana Levine as Publicist
Brick Mason as Himself - Storyboard Artist
Chandler Parker as Javier Ortega
Sharon Pinkenson as Herself - Film Commissioner
Jicky Schnee as Jennifer
Benjamin Smolen as Shyamalan fan
John F. Street as Himself - Mayor of Philadelphia
Greg Urban as Himself - Anthropology Professor

Special Features:
None

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 124 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"Through revealing interviews with M. Night Shyamalan's childhood friends and neighbors, Academy AwardŽ-nominated filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn (Best Feature Documentary, My Architect: A Son's Journey, 2003; My Father's Garden) seeks to uncover the director's most intimate secrets and learn how they've been woven into the stories of his intensely powerful movies! And in addition to talks with cast and crew members, you'll witness insightful discussions with celebrities.

As intriguing as Shyamalan's films themselves... you don't want to miss this fascinating attempt to shed light on the unseen events and influences that have helped shape the spellbinding films of a masterful artist!"

The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan is not rated.

The Movie:
Though it doesn't say it anywhere on the DVD cover or in the film itself, this is actually a mock documentary. As the release of The Village neared, the Sci-Fi Channel prepared to air this "documentary" about director M. Night Shyamalan. In order to generate publicity, they told the press that they dug up secrets about Shyamalan that he didn't want known. He supposedly pulled all support for the documentary midway through production. CNN and a number of other news organizations ran the story assuming some big dirt had been dug up. A short time later it was announced that the fake documentary was nothing more than a publicity stunt for The Village, much to the frustration of the news organizations that reported on it. Strangely, this DVD continues the ruse by not stating that it was all a stunt.

So does the documentary hold up once you cast aside the hype? Yes and no. The mockumentary does capture some of the creepiness of Shyamalan's films. There's a bizarre encounter between the documentary filmmaker and some Shyamalan fans in an online chat room. Then there's another creepy moment with a ouija board and a walkthrough in a haunted house. Cameos by Johnny Depp and Adrian Brody are a lot of fun to see as well. It's also entertaining to try and figure out who is a real interviewee and who is acting. It can be quite difficult at times.

Unfortunately, the 2 hour film is about an hour too long. There are a lot of moments that drag the film out unnecessarily. And if you've ever followed M. Night Shyamalan and his career, it's hard to believe that he's a moody, mysterious, diva-like recluse that the documentary portrays him to be. Having seen childhood movies of him playing Indiana Jones on The Village DVD just hours before watching this, it made it even more unbelievable. Shyamalan even lets his true colors show in the documentary as he takes the camera crew around Philadelphia. You can tell he's acting when he gets upset in the movie so it makes the moody moments seem quite ridiculous.

Ultimately "The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan" is a good idea that didn't entirely work out. Trying to pass this mockumantary off as non-fiction is just silly and using it as publicity for The Village seemed like a cheap stunt. They should have at the very least acknowledged that it was all a game in some DVD extras. This movie might be fun to watch if you're an M. Night Shyamalan fan, but I can't imagine wanting to buy a copy of this for your collection.

The Extras:
There are no bonus features included on this DVD.

The Bottom Line:
The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan is really only of interest to die hard Shyamalan fans. The mockumentary format is fun, but the film is a bit long for a publicity stunt.

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